This is how to get better data from your audience

Data is a powerful resource in today’s world, even more important than oil to some communities.

Yet I’m always hearing that people aren’t getting the data they want.

In my world of L&D, I particularly hear people moan about the lack of insightful data gathered from post course, resource or learning experiences. It seems to be a common theme that many teams aren’t getting useful data to measure the effectiveness and impact of their solutions.

I have a number of thoughts on this and more importantly, what you can do to change this to get better data.

 

Think about the endgame and work backwards

For many challenges I approach, I liked to know what I want the outcome to be and work backwards from this or in other words reverse engineering what I need to do in order to reach the outcome I want.

Once I understand the endgame of my task, I’ll ask myself a number of questions. The most important one being, what is it that I want to understand from my audience? Which I’ll then breakdown further into the layers of data I wish to capture.

 

Ask better questions

Sounds simple right? Yet so many feedback exercises contain fluffy and bloated questions that have no structure or logical flow to them. You want simple and concise lines of questioning to get the main points you seek. People don’t want to read an essay, so don’t make it one.

If you’re not getting the data you want, then look to ask better questions.

Review what you have now and consider how you would interpret these if you were answering the same questions. What do they mean to you? Do you understand what’s being asked? Could the question be written in a simpler format?

 

Presentation & Structure

I find this is often an overlooked part of the feedback process.

No one wants to or has the time to go through 50 + questions on the latest course, resource or experience they’ve just had, so don’t make them. A common reason why you won’t get good data is by overloading your participants with streams of questions.

You’ll find they’ve either given up caring 3 minutes in and begin to fire any answers just to escape what seems like a now never ending mistake or they’ll abandon the activity altogether.

When creating questions, be concise and to the point as much as possible, highlighting the key points you wish to understand from participants. I normally work with no more than 10 questions maximum in anything I do and I’ll do countless test runs with myself and others to determine how long it takes to complete.

A trick I can share with you, if you’re a Microsoft Forms user, is that this lovely app will track how long it takes each participant to complete your questions and provide you with an average time to complete metric.

Another key component to focus on when you have your set of questions nailed, is the structure of your feedback form or survey.

The flow of your questions is just as important as the questions themselves. If your questions are just positioned in a random order with no relevance from the previous to the next then this won’t help in creating the story you wish to build from its data.

 

Final thoughts

As you can tell, there’s more to getting great data than building a bunch of questions and throwing them at your audience to answer.

I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on these? Would you add anymore? Let me know in the comments section.

 

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